PTSD – In Search of the Feelings

At Friday’s group therapy, one of the Therapists said she would like to ask methH941VB95 something about the previous week’s session. I had shared parts of my horrific experience of coming face to face with the psycho-killer from hell.  This is the root of PTSD and Agoraphobia, which I shared in my post, ‘Experiencing Dissociation’.

This was a very public story in its day and my life became an open book in the media. There was no other option but to be open and honest with those closest to me, even about the private and intrusive parts I would rather they didn’t know.

Rather than sympathise with the victim of an extraordinary violent crime, most people thought I was a fool for going home with a stranger in the first place, some openly said, “You were asking for it.” Why would you want to frequent a gay nightclub? Why did you not sense the danger? Why did you not see he’s a psycho? Why did you not realise when he drugged your drink? My Dad, in all his wisdom, said, “You should stay away from people of your own kind.” He meant gays, not psycho killers.

th4ECJ4EQZI nicknamed those ghastly responses the ‘Five D’s’. Disbelief: Disapproval: Disappointment: Devastation and Disgust: It was difficult to testify against my assailant in a High Court trial, but at least the trauma was over in a few days. That’s more than I can say for the cross-examination by condescending peers who would then cast their harsh, holier than thou judgements.

That was over twenty years ago. A short time later, I moved a few hundred miles away, changed my name and, of course, my so-called friends. I never did mention it again, not even to family… until now.

Other than some professionals, people in London don’t know of this secret part of my life and neither do they realise I’ve changed my name. I relocated here under the pretence of “starting afresh” when, in reality, I was running away. Does this mean I’m still running?

I was taking an enormous risk sharing parts of this story at last week’s group therapy. It felt strange to hear myself uttering those familiar words. There was every chance this could bring me face to face with the ‘Five D’s’ all over again, but it didn’t.

Everyone in the room listened intently and supported each word with empathy and, most importantly, non-judgement. They accepted my story as my own pain, rather than a sensational piece of news that somehow seems to affect everyone.

I am not sure where I should go with all of this now. I do recognise this experience as the root of my PTSD and Agoraphobia, but part of my mind thinks it is pointless to go over the same old systematic story without connecting to the feelings.

My detachment watches the reel of film roll out before my eyes and it feels more liketh2FR0ZCWV reading a script for the evening news. Without a doubt, healing partly comes from ‘observing the feelings’…but where the heck are the feelings?

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45 thoughts on “PTSD – In Search of the Feelings

  1. kat

    keep looking, keep digging , keep processing, keep therapy….you will find the lost emotions and connect them to the memory, and then you will be able feel, to grieve and mourn and finally, let this go (and that means no more triggers for this, no more flashbacks), and you will be able to move on. sending support and kindness to you as you continue on your journey.

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  2. Priceless Joy

    I agree with Kat. When my psychiatrist killed himself, it was a year before I was finally able to grieve. I stuffed the feelings back out of the way. When I did grieve it came rushing out like a volcano erupting. I think it waited until a time I could actually handle the grief. So maybe our subconscience waits until we are strong enough to handle those feelings.

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    1. Cat Post author

      Gosh, I forgot about your Psychiatrist killing himself, that would be so confusing, not to mention upsetting. Yes, I think the timing needs to feel just right before we feel secure enough to let it out. Thanks, Joy 😉

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  3. Andi

    First of all, I’m very sorry that people responded the way they did. You are not at all to blame for what happened to you or your encounter with such an individual. Secondly, I think we process things in our own time. So I say stay with this and see where it leads. Every time we tell our story, we tend to see things slightly differently and heal a little more. It might not feel like much, but I think you’re moving closer and closer to where you want to be with this.

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    1. Andi

      Also, I’m sorta offended that your father lumped “gays” together with “psychopaths”…as a general rule, we aren’t serial killers. Just gay. Yeesh.

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      1. Cat Post author

        Wasn’t he just outrageous! It was the first time in my life I didn’t answer him back, I was gobsmacked. I don’t think he was grouping the two together, as such, but he was saying “stay away from your own kind” as a way of suggesting only bad can come from it…. two of the same thing, really. Never mind, I haven’t talked to him in over 15yrs 🙂 Cheers Andi

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    2. Cat Post author

      Yes, Andi, thankfully I’ve moved on from the self-blame and you’re right about processing things in our own time. I will talk to Paul about it sometime soon and see where it leads us. Part of me doesn’t want to do it, actually, all of me doesn’t want to do it… the dissociation is just nice… but I know I need to deal with the PTSD and agoraphobia, so there’s nothing else for it but to knuckle down.

      Thanks for the feedback, appreciated 🙂

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  4. mm172001

    I have the same issue when recounting trauma, it’s just like I’m a news reporter, no emotions, no feelings, as if it happened to someone else. I’m not sure I’m ready for my feelings but I would like to heal.

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    1. Cat Post author

      Doesn’t it feel just so weird, Marci. It’s like I’ve been hypnotised and as soon as I start “the news report” I automatically go into a weird mode, which follows a certain rigid procedure. I daresay I still use exactly the same words today as I did back then. I wish I could remember other important things with similar accuracy. Thanks for commenting 🙂

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  5. ziggy40

    Dear Cat,
    Please be kind to yourself, it takes time to process. It can take a long time to feel SAFE enough emotionally to feel those, your heading towards healing. One day at a time…sending positive vibes..lol
    Love Ziggy

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    1. Cat Post author

      Hiyas Ziggy… always nice to hear from you. How are you? I think you hit the nail on the head, it is about feeling safe enough to open up an old ‘war wound’ and that includes feeling safe enough with my Therapist, and maybe this is why I am already starting to talk about it, perhaps we are approaching the right time, we’ll see. Thank you for commenting

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  6. Anxious Mom

    Ugh I hate that instead of being supportive and compassionate that other people chose to judge you for being the victim. I hate how our society does that, such a shame. I’m glad you were able to share with your group and that they responded with non-judgment, though. Very brave!

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    1. drgeraldstein

      Certainly brave. Few wish to contemplate the possibility that, they too, might be the victim of misfortune. Those interested might wish to investigate the research on the “Just World Hypothesis” and “Terror Management Theory.”

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  7. Glynis Jolly

    I like your 5 D’s. Very appropriate.

    Question: Do you feel that you need to talk more about that experience? Are there things you need to say about it? If there is, then I would think that you need to still do some rehashing. If you’ve said all that you believe needs to be said, maybe it’s time to put the experience on a shelf in the back of your mind to bring out when you hear a question about it.

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    1. Cat Post author

      Hi Glynis… I am not sure if I need to talk about the experience. I have never cried about it (or anything since, apart from the cats death, of course!), so I am a little concerned of blocking a lot out and maybe if I let some of the emotion go and talk through it from a different angle, it might help me to deal with the PTSD and the agoraphobia… but then again, maybe not 🙂 I think I need to talk to the Therapist and see where it goes. If I don’t get in touch with emotions, then it will be something that I’ll just put on the back burner for now.

      Thanks, Glynis

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  8. Tessa

    Groups can be so helpful and non-judgemental. I have been to plenty on mood disorders and they were caring. I use my online groups and this blog to get me past my mental and physical issues.

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  9. your mirror

    Hi Cat, your horrific experience was my first bond to your blog. “I kept asking for it” since I left my family, I wonder why… 😉

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    1. Cat Post author

      Somehow it is easier to blame us for whatever bad happens. Someone suggested “Just World Hypothesis” and “Terror Management Theory.” 🙂 Nice to hear from you

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  10. mandy smith

    Hi Cat. I have major catchup to do. I hate when I’m so busy trying to keep up that I can’t do what I really love to do–read blogs! This session and you revealing your story–where your PTSD originates from–must have also been very eye-opening for those in the group. They will probably look at you in a new light, like they’ve just gotten to know you. I love getting to know the real person. Maybe from carrying shame and lies for so long. And then you become different with them, too. Honesty has a healing effect.
    What you went through Cat is beyond my imagination. I’ve heard stories about date-rape drugs, and yours ended up so much worse than one can imagine. How dare anyone say one word in blame for what you did or didn’t do. I’m so pissed thinking about it. And wouldn’t you know that every post I’ll be writing this month is on–sexual assault. I know that you know you weren’t to blame in any way. Does that make it all better? NO.
    I know what you mean about thinking changing your name would change your life. Same here. I thought moving, changing my name, divorcing my family would make me a different person. Nope. Scars grow thick–not so easy to dissolve as that. But Cat, trust me, hang in there, continue doing the work, and one day you’ll be surprised. The PTSD/dissociation symptoms lessen. Real feelings come back. I never believed it would be true. I’m not completely there. But I’m getting there. Trust the process. ❤

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    1. Cat Post author

      I am also catching up, Mandy. Your comments always hold so much compassion and right now I am soaking it up like a sponge.

      My revelation was an eye opener for the group and also for me… not everyone doubts and judges. I must say, at that time in my life, all my friends and colleagues AND family were from the church… says everything, really!

      Date rape drugs were still largely unheard of in the UK. When the police tried to explain it to me, I was bamboozled and my innocent mind just couldn’t grasp the cruelty of such a thing

      After you moved, did you go through the guilt? Did you reconcile with any of them?

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      1. mandy smith

        Guilt, Cat? Yes, always. But my anger at them grew. They’d shunned me since age 14, when I revealed the abuse, but now, with the name-change, they had an excuse to shun me–ungrateful, bad girl, you know. I saw the family 5 times in 20 years, when I’d go back to visit. The abuse was not allowed to be mentioned. It was only at the end of that 20 years when I started get counseling, that I confronted them again. I was cast out for good then. My mom got a brain tumor a few months later and I was blamed for her getting the tumor and dying months later. THAT guilt lasted until I worked through it writing my book. I wish, when I moved away at 16, that I’d known about removing toxic people from my life and that I’d never looked back. But they were all I had, too. They destroyed the ability to trust people for me.

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        1. Cat Post author

          Jee… now I am seething. You were the one who was abused, but then the bad girl for changing your name…tut… I can only imagine the guilt and self-blame over your mum, but it sounds like the family needed something to blame you for rather than accept their own responsibility for the estrangement. They do destroy our ability to trust. If we can’t trust a blood relative, who can we trust? However, I hope our healing brings a newfound ability to relearn that trust for people who deserve or earn it 🙂

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  11. Sharon Alison Butt

    Umm… ur dad gives you advice despite the fact that it’s his fault you turned to men for affection in the first place. I’m not surprised you were angry. That’s like leaving a baby in a dirty nappy them blaming it for being smelly. I simply hate hypocrisy! x

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    1. Cat Post author

      Hi Susan… thank you for your feedback, always appreciated. The theory of it being the father’s fault for a son’s sexuality is quite a controversial subject. There have been various theories from a father withholding love or giving too much, to a mother being overbearing or even too distant. However, all of these theories and many more have proved inaccurate. No matter what a parent does, it does not appear to influence a child’s sexuality. There is only one theory that people cannot disprove, and that is we are all born with our sexuality. If there is no outside influences that determine who we are attracted to, then this poses a very controversial subject to the church because it would need to answer the question, ‘why would God NOT create different sexualities?’

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  12. Tournesol (Clr)

    Keep on processing in your therapy on your group and writing. You are on that path that zig zags a lot do you don’t quite see the light but it’s there. Thank you for sharing , Cat. I never went through all the trauma you did but still I’m embarrassed to even share with counsellors I work with. Very few know. Close friends and family did not all “get it”. I’m so dirty your dad said what he did. But I’m glad you found a place to start fresh. The old stuff is slowly shedding. I admire your courage and generosity in sharing here too

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    1. Cat Post author

      It’s always so difficult to share any kind of trauma. I think there is too much shame, or something, that makes it just too painful and humiliating Yes, my Dad does tend to hold his own particular views and he never wavers from them. It shows weakness rather than strength.

      Thank you for your encouraging words

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      1. Tournesol (Clr)

        You’re welcome. Perhaps it also shows fear. I know a very close friend who is homophobic and partly it was his generation but also he was an altar boy and involved in a church scandal. In those days they did not get counselling so he made his poor assumptions and suffered his own guilt. Pedophilia is not the same as a person’s sexual orientation but I could never convince him.

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        1. Cat Post author

          I can understand where he’s coming from, not that I excuse it. I just wonder how many of the people that abused him and his friends were actually heterosexual. I am not sure if there were that many, if at all. Of course, that doesn’t mean to say paedophilia and sexuality should be grouped together, that would be absurd, but in his case, the abusers probably were gay. In saying that, is there really any excuse for not at least trying to challenge our own beliefs, especially if they are completely incorrect. Anyway, we digress. Nice to chat and thank you, as always, for your contribution.

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    1. Cat Post author

      Gggrrrr new phones. I have only had three or four in 16yrs because it’s such a headache to learn. Have you tried out Cortana?

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      1. Tournesol (Clr)

        No I have not but I only switched to IPhone so I could facetime my grandson on his Ipod…I still prefer my Samsung which I carry around and use now as a mini tablet and reader, but I’ll check it out.

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        1. Cat Post author

          Its an amazing talking app with “intelligence” I told “her” the other day to remind me to get carrots the next time I was at the supermarket. Lo and behold, as I was driving into the car park, she reminded me via my phone to get carrots!! She will also read and reply to text by speech and will answer absolutely any question, either by voice or by calling up web links. I am usually not an app person, but it really tickled me!

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  13. cardamone5

    A lot of people already said what occurred to me, but I’ll say the obvious anyway: you are not to blame for what happened because you are gay/went to a gay bar/went home with someone/didn’t know they drugged your drink (hello…you were drugged.) The next time this crosses your mind, think, wouldn’t you do anything to get a redo (not going to the bar, not being gay, but experiencing the horror the killer subjected you to?) I think you are so brave, in being yourself (it takes a lot of guts to come out) and in going back to this horrific event in order to process your feelings, even if it doesn’t feel that way. I am sending big hugs and so much admiration.

    Love,
    E

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    1. Cat Post author

      Thank you, Elizabeth. I never did take on board the criticisms from my peers, they were all in some way connected with the church and back then homosexuality was still a little taboo. When the entire story came out in the press, a few people apologised Not that I excuse their behaviour, I let it go a long time ago. Your comments always bring me encouragement, thank you

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  14. manyofus1980

    You were really brave to share your story in group. I’m glad it helped you and am glad the other members were supportive. After all, we all need support not judgements of others. As for the feelings, perhaps in time they’ll come? XX

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